An outdoorsy, irrepressibly optimistic athlete and scholar: that’s how family
and friends have been describing Kayla Hallee following her untimely death at
On Monday, friends and family will gather at Mission Viejo Christian Church to remember Hallee, graduate of the Mission Viejo High School class of 2010.
Hallee’s body was found in the Pacific Ocean Aug. 28 about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara coroner told mother Denise Hallee there were no witnesses and no signs of trauma.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever know what really happened,” Denise told KCAL news.
Denise described her only child as a “free spirit” who would often leave without taking her phone with her. Kayla had been visiting friends in Santa Barbara for one final vacation before returning to UC Santa Cruz Sept. 11, her mother said.
Jesica Van Schaik began playing club soccer with Kayla under Coach Colin Bouette when they were both 12. The two attended La Paz Intermediate and Mission High together and graduated together.
Van Schaik said Hallee worked hard and smiled and laughed often. As captain of her club soccer team, Hallee motivated her teammates with her optimism.
“She’d turn everything positive,” Van Schaik said. “We’d lose a game—get our butts kicked and she’d be like, ‘that’s OK, we’ll get them next week.”
On her soccer team, Hallee acquired the nickname “Sky” because of her height.
Hallee got deeply involved in Mission Viejo High activities her senior year, especially her work on the school yearbook, her friend said.
While in high school, Hallee and friends would bring brooms to the field near De Portola Elementary for weekend games of quidditch, Van Schaik said. And when a Harry Potter movie was released, Hallee could be found in line dressed up like the movie’s characters.
“It was outdoorsy,” Van Schaik explained. “She loved it up there, just being away and getting into nature more. She told me what a banana slug was because I had no idea—she was all excited.”
In college Hallee spent a semester studying abroad in India, Van Schaik said, and she was eager to get back to class this semester.
On his Facebook wall, Hallee’s stepfather David Mulcahy described her as “a beautiful spirit, a wonderful and caring person who loved the outdoors.”